Barcelona to ban tourists from driving in parts of the city

New plan will mean only local residents will be allow to drive in specially designated 'citizen spaces'

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Barcelona will ban tourist traffic from 60 per cent of its roads in a bid to tackle pollution and accidents. 

Plans announced by Barcelona City Council will begin creating “citizen spaces” where only local residents’ car will be able to travel from 2017 in order to “reclaim public space for the people”. 

The new scheme will be trialled in the Eixample neighbourhood in the city centre before being expanded northwards in the neighbourhoods of  Santi Marti and Gracia.

It will be based on the grid pattern design dreamed up by Catalan engineer Ildefons Cerdà who was tasked with expanding the city outside its medieval walls in 1850s after it went through a population explosion during the industrial revolution.

The Eixample district was originally arranged in superilles (superblocks) - mini neighbourhoods of houses with green spaces in the middle - to improve public health and ensure that the population expanded evenly. 

But with the arrival of private cars, the grid pattern meant vehicles criss-crossed the city and have contributed to a public health crisis they were designed to solve. 

According to several scientific studies, air pollution causes an estimated 3,500 premature deaths a year in the city of 3.2m people.

Barcelona  and its 35 surrounding areas regularly breach of EU-mandated levels for nitrogen dioxide (NO2). 

The 'citizen space' scheme will be designed around the 19th century grid pattern parts of the city were designed around (Rex Features)

The local Environment Epidemiology Agency found that if the city’s NO2 levels were brought down to the level permitted by the EU an estimated 1,200 deaths could be reduced.

Around one if five of its children are estimated to be overweight or at risk of becoming so due to a sedentary lifestyle, the Guardian reports

The city only has 6.6sq ft of green space per resident - compared with 27 sq ft per resident in London which has nearly three times the population.

The new citizen spaces will consist of nine existing superblocks on the grid.

All vehicular traffic will then be restricted to the outer perimeter of the grid and local residents will be able to apply for permits to travel in between at a reduced speed limit. 

In the details of the plans, published on the council’s website, it said: “The City Council advocates a more sustainable city model that allows us to face the challenge of improving the quality of life of people as well as making the city more livable and more healthy.

The City Council has said they aim to reduce road traffic by 21 per cent in two years (Getty Images)

“Within this framework, the Municipal Government will set as priorities combat levels of air pollution, noise produced by traffic, road accident rates and lack of green spaces.

“Today travel in private vehicles account for 20 per cent of all journeys in the city but the space dedicated to this means of transport is around 60 per cent”.

The council says it will provide an initial €10m (£7.7m) investment in the project which they hope will reduce road traffic by 21 per cent within two years.